VOCA

An aviation researcher, writer, aviation participant, pilot & agricultural researcher. Author of over 35 scientific publications world wide.

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#pelAir stink pervades #aviation in #OZ with FOI refusal by Minister Chester

I have to hand a refusal of a Freedom of Information request [FOI] by Minister Chester’s Department of Infrastructure.

This requests the costings of the:

  1. Initial #atsb report;
  2. #casa report, not released to the #atsb;
  3. Senate Inquiry;
  4. Subsequent #asrr report by David Forsyth;
  5. Canadian ATSB report;
  6. Implementation cost by #casa;
  7. Implementation cost by #atsb

The refusal is shown below, which says: “…it can’t be found…”

It is rather amazing that the Minister’s office cannot find an active file, that over the past seven years and seven month’s, there are no records that show the total cost of the exercise.

I wonder if the same answer would also occur for #MH370?


Refusal by Minister Chester:

And the redacted full letter:


A comment by a long term #aviation participant says:

“……..Rex does have a very good record but not quite as good as Mr Sharp makes out.
In 2009 a Medivac flight operated by a subsidiary of Rex, #Pelair, had to ditch in the sea off Norfolk Island at night in bad weather. Luckily owing to the skill of the pilot all survived but there were injuries. Rex seemed happy enough to go along with the first Transport Safety Bureau report, engineered in cahoots with Civil Aviation Safety Authority, which neatly scapegoated the pilot. CASA, true to form, came on the unfortunate pilot (hero) like a ton of bricks.
Pelair’s arguably deficient operating procedures had been approved by CASA.
A Senate Committee, smelling a rat, ordered a second investigation two years ago, we are still waiting.
Rex has at times made very substantial donations to political parties.
It is acknowledged by a Government report that CASA, the architect of the severe decline in General Aviation, resulting in thousands of job losses, is not trusted by the GA industry.
Turning to John Sharp’s defense of old aircraft, well that is rich.
During his term as Minister CASA was in the habit of causing all sorts of grief to GA in regards to “aging” aircraft.
With Ministerial approval CASA instituted a plethora of extreme maintenance requirements that are still killing General Aviation while airlines are left, in the main, to follow manufacturer’s procedures…”
Alex in the Rises

A finger in the air to reasonable requests??


On the eve of the release of the #pelair report, now 7 years and 7 months since the ditching, I attach the report by Ben Sandilands in late 2012 [some five [5] years ago], which drew into doubt the standard of the report at the time.

Ben makes the following observation, which is as true today as at that point in time:

“…………Pel-Air has yet to be called to public account, either for its responsibilities to those it damaged, or for its inability to meet the regulated standards in its operations at the time of the incident.

If there is anything positive to say about this investigation, it is that it involved a small jet and six people, all of whom survived, rather than an accident involving a large airliner and the deaths of hundreds of people.

The starting point for avoiding air disasters in Australia is effective and un-compromised public administration of the laws and obligations that apply its airlines and air operators………….”

And in an article in The Australian – April 2017, John Sharp said in part:

“……….The other important contributor to flight safety is crew flying standards. The two events demonstrate the high quality of training of Rex crew such that normal landings are achieved even under rare and challenging circumstances. Rex has received universal praise from the aviation world for the calm, professional and effective actions of the crew after the separation of the propeller……..”

But this was not the case in the #pelAir ditching where the non-released #casa report was severely critical of the training and operations of the #pelair AOC and Chief Pilot. Interestingly, #casa employed the CP [John Wickham], yet #casa hid the report from #atsb.

The comments by John Sharp do not gel with the Senate investigation.


air safety

Sep 26, 2012

ATSB and Minister rebuffed objections to Pel-Air report errors before publication

An expert reviewer who found errors in the Pel-Air report says he was rebuffed by ATSB, Minister, before rushed publication.

A pilot who was lawfully permitted to review the final draft report by the ATSB into the 18 November 2009 ditching near Norfolk Island of a Pel-Air medical evacuation flight says he was fobbed off by the safety investigator and the Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, Anthony Albanese, when he objected in advance to its publication because of errors and omissions contained in the draft.
Plane Talking has seen the correspondence and some relevant matters which will be examined by in Senate committee hearings into the ATSB’s handling of the investigation and related matters.These are serious matters that need to be raised under parliamentary privilege.

 They suggest that the public administration of air safety in Australia is variously incompetent and compromised.

In an email directed to the attention of the Minister, the pilot, who has a long career in defence and civilian air transport in Australia and abroad, says:

“Tomorrow, the ATSB will release a Final report into an aviation accident at Norfolk Island.

The Final report in it’s current form contains factual errors. These have been brought to the attention of the (name and position withheld), and also the (name and position withheld).

Despite these many areas under dispute having been brought to the attention of both of these men on numerous occasions and requests that the Final report be delayed pending dialogue to resolve the inaccuracies, (name withheld) has determined that this report will be released tomorrow.

(Name withheld) has also let it be known that he is expecting a lot of media attention. I ask what is the point of media attention to a factually incorrect report?

Obviously a report with facts in dispute should not be released. Having spoken to both pilots concerned and as a professional aviator myself, I am left dismayed at the attitude of the ATSB and their willingness to issue such a questionable report. As Minister, I would ask you to stop the release to give all parties involved the opportunity for continued dialogue before it’s release.

At the moment, I am extremely disappointed in the attitude of the ATSB and have been left with great doubts about their investigations. At this point, I would most certainly be advising my colleagues in the airlines that they cannot rely on the ATSB to report the facts nor give them a fair hearing if they are ever involved in an incident.

This is obviously not the reputation that the ATSB should be making for themselves.”

These are the last two paragraphs of a three paragraph reply to the pilot from the Minister:

While the Minister is undoubtedly correct, or rather, whomever wrote the letter for his signature was correct, he is also responsible for the integrity and competency of the ATSB in the discharge of its duties.

And that is what seems set to be destroyed by the evidence that will be put to the Senate committee hearings, raising in this writer’s mind the capacity of ministerial advisers to avoid departmental capture and identify the core failings of the ATSB in this matter.

Australian governments of any political persuasion seem to be ill advised when it comes to administrative failure in the departments reporting to them.

As previously reported here the ATSB report leaves out references to the equipment level installed on the small corporate jet involved and the training of the pilot to enable a legal diversion to Noumea while en route from Apia to its intended technical stop at Norfolk Island that are inherently in conflict with the requirements of company fueling policy for the jet’s operations as described in the final report.

Contrary to the published policy of CASA, the regulator, that the delivery of safety standards flow from the responsibilities and performances of the management of an airline or air operator, the ATSB report, and a televised interview with CASA’s director of safety, John McCormick, placed the complete blame for the accident on a pilot who had been rostered in a manner which meant he hadn’t even slept properly for two nights before taking off on the Apia-Norfolk Island leg of a flight that was supposed to end in Melbourne.

Together with the chief commissioner of the ATSB, Martin Dolan, arguing on a 4 Corners program that the failure of Pel-Air to pass a CASA safety audit immediately after the accident was immaterial, the ATSB report, and  the apparent determination to publish it with  incomplete or untrue claims, leaves a big question hanging in the air. Why did the safety regulator and safety investigator go to such extraordinary lengths to avoid public disclosure of the state of operations at Pel-Air at the time of the crash?

This accident has inflicted serious damage on some of the six people who were onboard the Pel-Air jet.

Pel-Air has yet to be called to public account, either for its responsibilities to those it damaged, or for its inability to meet the regulated standards in its operations at the time of the incident.

If there is anything positive to say about this investigation, it is that it involved a small jet and six people, all of whom survived, rather than an accident involving a large airliner and the deaths of hundreds of people.

The starting point for avoiding air disasters in Australia is effective and uncompromised public administration of the laws and obligations that apply its airlines and air operators.